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2015 Vuelta Stage 11: Andorra la Vella>Cortals d'Encamp 138k

So. After a first week filled with surprised and/or revelations, the big brutal test is about to come. One of my most anticipated days of racing of the year.

Let's get this show started:


The stage has virtually no flat sections and contains a total of 4950m of climbing. This is one of the most brutal stages in recent GT history, especially considering the altitute that this takes place at. The lowest point of the race will be at 900m above sea level, and the highest point will be at the summit finish of 2095m.

To start things off, the riders will face the Collada de Beixalis. This climb comes right off the bat and measures in at 6.5k @ 8.7% from where the official climb starts, but if you consider the rise all the way from Andorra la Vella the climb is harsher. Expect the autobus to form extremely early on this climb, especially if the weather turns out to be harsh.

A fairly normal descent down to the village of La Massana ensues. It has a fair amount of twists and turns, but nothing probably nothing that will see and major contenders risk anything.

After a bit of false flat it's time for the next climb, the Coll d'Ordino, which according to the Vuelta profiles measuring in at 9.9km @ 7.1%. This is a very smooth climb with few irregularities, and should go by fairly smootly. The profile:

After this climb, there will be a very long descent down towards Canillo and then back towards Andorra la Vella. This might give any escapees time to strengthen their gap, especially if only few in the group of favorites are willing to pull at the front.

After passing the capital the riders will continue south and slightly downhill until they reach Sant Julià de Lòria. From here they will hit the third climb of the day, the Coll de la Rabassa. The climb has its steepest parts at the base, except for the few hundred metres of downhill after a few km into the climb. It's still very respectable at 13.9km @ 6.7%. Profile:

Following this climb is a rather tricky descent down back to Sant Julià de Lòria from where they will almost immediately start the next climb, the Collada de la Gallina. Being the only ESP category climb of the day, it certainly does live up to the expectations with a sick 11.7km @ 8.6%. The Vuelta profile doesn't quite show the difficulty of this climb, but this profile does it more justice:

Nothing is likely to happen in the descent if some favorites stay together. Gaps are not likely to be made on the descent back to Andorra la Vella from here, but if there are already gaps, some riders may lose time - especially if the road is wet. But instead of going straight into the capital once again, we will take a detour to the Alto de la Cornella. The easiest climb of the day at 4km @ 9.3%, it still is a very tough climb.

The riders are probably most likely to wait until the final climb to finish each other off though. This climb is the Alto Els Cortals d'Encamp. At 8.5km @ 9.4%, this climb is nothing to mess with. Sadly, the climb has its steepest parts in the beginning of the climb, but still finishes at a near 2100 metres. A grueling finish to an already grueling day. The profile:

Forecasts show medium amounts of rain as I write this. If it gets really wet and slippery, there can be carnage.

TOP 10 GC:

1 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 38:34:56
2 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:57
3 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEdge 0:00:59
4 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky 0:01:07
5 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:01:13
6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:17
7 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
8 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:18
9 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:01:47
10 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:52

This stage has huge implication for the GC. Tom D needs to keep his own tempo and limit his losses as much as he can, because he knows he can beat all of these guys (except maybe Froome) very comfortably in the ITT.

Rodriguez is racing on home turf, he knows these roads very well and has to use this to his advantage. He quite simply has to take time on a lot of his rivals today to stay relevant to the top 3 in the GC battle.

The Movistar duo hasn't been looking as good as they did during the Tour either, and neither has Froome, despite his excellent showing on Stage 9.

Meanwhile, the boys that raced the Giro, Aru and Pozzovivo have to be looking to this stage to make up time on their main rivals if they are going to figure in the overall battle. Majka has also been looking strong and is looking forward to this stage.

No matter what happens, expect the GC to be totally shaken up by the end of this stage.

Oh, and Omar Fraile to go on the attack for some mountain points. :D
Els Cortals was used a few times in the Volta a Catalunya at the turn of the century, so that we can take a look at the climb; click here to see the 2000 edition with José María Jiménez destroying everybody.

It's actually possibly the best MTF for steepness that Andorra has to offer, not long enough for a real tempo grinding climb like Arcalis, and stronger than Arinsal. La Rabassa would arguably make a better MTF, but the fact that unlike many of the Andorra climbs it can be used as a pass makes it a bit wasted if they do.
This stage has a lot of potential. A climb from the start to make sure there can only be a strong breakaway, little to no flat between climbs, and the last climb is not the hardest (although it's probably still too hard). Basically, anything could happen.

But I'm trying not to get my hopes up.
Re: 2015 Vuelta Stage 11: Andorra la Vella>Cortals d'Encamp

Yes! The real race starts here. Expect a dramatic change in temperature and weather conditions. Spain has said goodbye to summer this weekend.
A two day build up!!

Even with how crazy this stage is, there is still some way to go in the race with other tough stages to come, so I don't think any of the GC guys will go out of their comfort zone until near the end. I'm wondering if the stage is so hard that it will literally scare off any early break aways, that would be a shame, hopefully not.

It seems inevitable that Tom D will be on his own with no help, it's just a matter of when the other teams decide to push hard, really. Maybe he doesn't care. A lot of the top 10 is very close right now, but I just don't see that being the case by the end of this one (unless they're all just hanging on and miserable).

Really hard to pick a winner. I'd say Quintana is most likely though.
Sep 16, 2009
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Is it going to be live from the outset? 'You'd think on a stage like this, that the organisers would pay extra $$$$ to bring the stage live in duration.
Re: Re:

Sasquatch said:
BigMac said:
Sasquatch said:
Is it going to be live from the outset? 'You'd think on a stage like this, that the organisers would pay extra $$$$ to bring the stage live in duration.

It will. :)

This is good news. Eurosport?

Eurosport certainly will, but I imagine other broadcasters will too, because it's the producer making the footage available for all.
Jan 3, 2013
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Thank you for the opening thread jsem94! I predict Dumoulin to pass a awful day and get out of the top 10. Majka to win with an attack from the penultimate climb.

I hope some guys go crazy in the first climb, and make everyone work themselves to death. Who would chase? Movistar? Giant certainly doesn't have the team for it.
Sep 16, 2009
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Re: 2015 Vuelta Stage 11: Andorra la Vella>Cortals d'Encamp

jsem94 said:

Oh, and Omar Fraile to go on the attack for some mountain points. :D

I'm not sure Fraile can pull it off. But it will be a good battle tomorrow. Whoever is wearing the jersey after tomorrow will most likely win it. We know there's two teams that are aiming for it. Could be the best battle on the stage.
There are a few reasons why quite a number of teams will want to race hard
a) It's after a rest day and the next two days are transitional stages.
b) The leader is clearly the best TTist among those high up in GC and the others suspect he is vulnerable in the high mountains.
c) The top 10 are all within 2 minutes. Many of those guys think that they can still win and a lot of those know that they will have to gain time here (Aru, Quintana, Majka, Pozzovivo)

So I expect a strong break to form on the first climb. Tommy D to be isolated by climb 4. To remain in the lead, both Tom's head and legs must be really strong. He seemed overly eager yesterday. Tomorrow, he'll have to choose what moves to follow, use the rivalries between the other riders and then just time trial up the final climb (if he's still in the running - at that point, it will be everyone for themselves). It's going to hard racing.

1. Majka
2. Quintana
3. Aru
4. Froome
5. Pozzovivo
This is one of those stages where, even if nobody really want to race it hard, it could be carnage nonetheless, especially if it rains.
Plenty of good riders are far enough in the GC, so the battle to be in the break will be furious. I'm expecting most GC teams to try and put a rider in the break (bar Astana maybe, they're already down to 7).

Hard to predict who could do well. On paper, this shouldn't be a stage for Aru, but I agree he has looked very strong thus far, so he could surprise.
Movistar has all the weapons to make the race explode from the get go, but I doubt they'll use them. Quintana could go on La Gallina anyway.
Don't know what to expect from Froome, could be the strongest or lose minutes.
Pozzovivo will race conservatively, his goal is a top5 and he's not in the best possible shape. Add the bad weather and you can't expect firewors from him.
Purito will only attack on the final climb of course, but I'm not sure wether he still can climb with the very best in such a hard stage.
If there's one man who could try from afar, it's Majka for me.